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Go Green: Pipe Organs

A local company is doing its part to keep pipe organs, and the lead pipes in them, from ending up in the landfill.
A local company is doing its part to keep pipe organs, and the lead pipes in them, from ending up in the landfill. 

Inside the workshop in the Bristol Hills, beautiful music is being made. It is the sound of work being done on a pipe organ that will take months to build. 

"A church in Altoona, Pennsylvania called us. The church was closing they wanted to sell the organ.  We knew a church in Fairport that was looking for a new organ," Matt Parsons said.

It was music to Parsons' ears. Instead of winding up in a landfill, the old organ from Pennsylvania will be re-purposed. More than half of it will be used to build an organ for St. Johns of Rochester in Fairport.

"We are modifying it, putting in new parts and re-using the quality old parts from the Altoona organ; and by re-using old parts, the church saves lots of money. The organ from Altoona doesn't end up in the landfill and everybody is happy," Parsons said.

Even the spare pipes will be saved from the landfill. The pipes came out of the Altoona organ and will not be going into the Fairport one. But eventually they will find a new home.

"Sometimes the pipes aren't as high quality and we can melt them down and re-use them. Everything is re-used and re-incorporated into future jobs," he said. 

New organs can be very expensive. By re-using old parts the cost of an organ is about a third, and the environment benefits too- because there is a lot of lead, tin, zinc and wood in each one. 

"Behind the facade, the average church organ has 3,000 to 4,000 pipes behind the facade," he said.

Parsons says organs can last forever if well-maintained, which a major tune-up every 100 years to replace disintegrating parts. 
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